Week Two: Celebrating Milestones and Cherishing New Friendships!

Dear Herzl Camp Parents and Families,

With immense joy and excitement, we bring you the latest update from the vibrant heart of Herzl Camp here in Webster, Wisconsin! Our second week has been filled with incredible moments, new adventures, and the forging of lifelong friendships. As we approach the end of First Session, we wanted to share some of the highlights of this eventful week with you.

This summer, we were thrilled to welcome one of the largest groups of Herzl Camp Tasters in the history of the Taste program. Over 65 tasters embarked on their Herzl journey on Monday afternoon, ready to embrace the magic and spirit of camp. Their energy and enthusiasm have been contagious, infusing our community with even more excitement and vitality. The culmination of the tasters’ week-long journey is marked by a beloved tradition at Herzl Camp – the Taste dance performance. The entire camp will soon gather to watch this spectacular showcase, which the Tasters have been practicing and preparing for all week.

Yesterday marked a milestone as our First Session and Taste campers participated in Bikkurim. Other camps may call this sort of day Maccabiah, Color War, or Yom Sport – but at Herzl we’ve always called our camp-wide sports and activity day “Bikkurim,” and it’s a special tradition we infuse with loads of Herzl ruach (spirit)! The theme this session was Cars, the beloved Pixar movie. At flag-raising yesterday, our awesome staff surprised the camp with the announcement of Bikkurim – the kids’ excitement was off the charts, even if they didn’t quite know what was about to happen! After breakfast, campers headed back to their cabins to put on as much of their team’s color as they could. Then they met their new teams to have a day of Herzl fun and friendly competition. Wherever I was in camp yesterday, I heard happy cheering from all four Bikkurim teams: Lightning McQueen (Red Team), Sally (Blue Team), Mater (Orange Team), and Doc Hudson (Purple Team). Campers participated in a range of activities – way too many to name them all here. From a spirited Sing-down, to a Bikkurim adaptation of the Herzl favorite “Roofball,” to a Cars trivia competition, to an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, the kids had a blast. We even made staying cool and hydrated fun, with frequent reminders to drink water and built-in team bonding moments for cooling down in the shade. After a BBQ cookout dinner, we announced that the Purple Team prevailed! Don’t worry – Doc Hudson wasn’t the only happy car in camp. Kids from all teams celebrated a fun-filled day full of surprises and unforgettable memories – a great way to propel us into today and Shabbat.

As First Session comes to an end following our second Shabbat together this weekend, we couldn’t be prouder of the campers who have officially kicked off the summer of 2023. The campers’ enthusiasm has shone brightly in every corner of camp. We’ve had the pleasure of watching them learn new skills, make lifelong memories, meet new friends, and laugh at “shtickyness” that only Herzl Camp can provide.

During one of our Shabbat meals last weekend, I sat by two campers who were clearly having a blast together. It was heartwarming to witness the natural chemistry between two campers who had been randomly placed in the same cabin without knowing each other before. From the moment they met, these two interacted as if they had been friends for years, sharing laughter, adventures, and the joy of camp with one another. Their story exemplifies the unique connections that can only form at camp, where lasting friendships are formed in the blink of an eye.

I am a passionate believer in camp’s lasting impact because I attended Herzl myself for many years. By returning to Herzl Camp this summer after two decades away, it has been nothing short of incredible to see that the familiar landscapes have grown, new facilities are being embraced, and programming has been enhanced to provide an even richer experience for the campers. The opportunity to contribute to camp’s legacy and be a part of the transformative experiences that shape young lives has truly filled me with immeasurable gratitude.

As we approach the end of First Session, we are eagerly preparing for a memorable Shabbat together. The serene beauty of nature surrounding us at the Mercaz (our outdoor amphitheater overlooking Devils Lake), the soulful melodies to our Shabbas prayers, and the profound sense of community will create an atmosphere of reflection, gratitude, and celebration for everyone. It will truly be a time to honor the growth, achievements, and shared experiences that have enriched the lives of our campers during their time at Herzl these last few weeks.

The session concludes on Sunday morning – First Session and Taste parents, please read your email from yesterday with important information on the last day of the session. We hope you’ll be with us at Herzl again very soon! If your children want some more Herzl fun this summer, we still have some spaces left in Second Session (June 27 – July 16) and Third Session (July 18 – August 6) for a few grades. We’ve already had a few campers add sessions this summer because of the fun they’re having at camp right now! Please reach out to me if you’d like to talk about extending your camper’s summer.

We want to express our deepest gratitude for entrusting us with the care and growth of your children. It is our privilege to witness their transformation, foster their love for Jewish culture and values, and create an environment where friendships flourish. Thank you for continuing the legacy of joy, connection, and discovery that defines Herzl Camp.

With warmest wishes and a Shabbat Shalom,

Danya Kornblum
Director of Camp Life and Culture

Leave a Reply